The Arbinger Institute has produced a number of important self-help books over the course of its existence and the new edition of their 2016 volume The Outward Mindset: How to Change Lives and Transform Organizations is one of their best offerings in this area. It argues for a revised approach towards the idea of what “mindset” means – rather than referring to an internalized view of self alone, The Arbinger Institute advocates for an expanded definition of the term encompassing both internal and external factors. They believe that realizing the potential of any given situation or structure isn’t just dependant on how we view ourselves, but hinges as well on how we see others, the world around us, and our connections. They make explore the subject in a condensed volume that eschews self indulgence and has across the board application rather than a narrow focus on limited aspects.
This wide application makes the book useful, if not indispensible, on a variety of levels. Its value isn’t limited to organizational or business structures alone; applying the principles outlined within The Outward Mindset has the potential to reshape personal lives and relationships in a way referred to in the book’s title. It relies on storytelling to a great degree to make its points, but it isn’t a clichéd assortment of pat tales depicting predictable situations and resolutions. The book acknowledges the often difficult circumstances individuals and organizations can find themselves contending with and offers no shortcuts or comfortable tropes in lieu of the necessary hard work and honesty required to see our way through such problematic moments.
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These qualities, among others, distinguish The Outward Mindset from a bevy of works trafficking in easy answers. A number of straight forward illustrations and diagrams included with the book further illuminate its ideas in a comprehensible way. The accessibility of this book is another of its abiding qualities. There isn’t a particular author assigned credit for this text, but the volume has a consistent voice throughout engaging readers on in an intelligent yet conversational fashion. There is no intricate discourse limiting the usefulness of its information to a certain cadre of prospective readers. It, instead, is targeted for an expansive audience and never conveys its message in an unwieldy fashion.
Despite a lack of academic citations, The Arbinger Institute has invested a great deal of obvious research in the subject. This pays off for readers time and again during the course of The Outward Mindset without losing readers in weeds of jargon or obscure examples culled from remote experiences. The vast majority of potential readers will relate to this book without much, if any, difficulty and it will hold up under repeated readings.
This is an important book with a further reach than many similar entries in this field and continues The Arbinger Institute’s tradition of producing informative texts with a minimum of pretension. I believe it will occupy a prime position on many bookshelves for years to come and can be consulted again and again without exhausting its potential.